Charter season has arrived once again here in the Great Lakes and wreck divers are chafing at the bit to get back out on our favorite boats. Before we pack up and head out, let’s review a few basic courtesies that will make everyone’s trip a little bit happier.
- Find out where the marina is located and where the boat is docked within the marina. I prefer morning charters which means I’m in town the evening before, which gives me time to reconnoiter the area and find out where I need to be the following morning.
- On some boats, rigid containers like milk crates or plastic tubs are welcome, but on most Great Lakes charters there is no room for these rigid containers and they just get in the way. If you carry your gear around in these containers, find out beforehand if it’s acceptable to bring them on the boat. Better yet, just use a gear bag.
- Arrive early enough to load your equipment onto the boat so the boat can depart on time. Do not show up at departure time and start assembling your equipment in the parking lot! Have everything ready to go, loaded on the boat before departure time.
- Stay in your spot. The crew will show where to stow your equipment. Follow their instructions. There is limited space and each diver has his or her own space: stay in it. Don’t spread your equipment out all over the bench, deck, cabin, or whatever. Usually, your tanks will stand up on the back of the bench (secured in place!) and everything else should go under your bench.
- Find out if tank fills are available at your destination. Many charter boats are located in areas that have no dive centers, fill stations or any other support. You may well have to bring all the gas you need with you. That may mean several sets of doubles and loads of deco bottles.
- The captain has final say. In case of bad weather, you may have to change wreck sites or cancel the dive. If the day is canceled, accept it gracefully. The captain usually has far more experience out on the lake than you, so if he (or she) says it’s too rough to go, it probably is.
- However, don’t feel pressured to dive if you’re not comfortable. If the captain says it’s OK to go out but you think it may be too lumpy for your likes, stay at the dock. You may forfeit your charter fee, but it’s worth it if you avoid a miserable experience.
- Crew tips are not included in the charter cost. Most boat divemasters are volunteers, not paid crew. They work hard to make your dive day enjoyable, show them some appreciation.
This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it should get you thinking. I’ll bet you can think of many other items to add (just think about what other people do on boats that annoy you).
Have a safe and enjoyable dive season!